Road trips are a fun way to vacation, to see new sights, and to practice photography. I have taken many road trips over the years and decided to write my own set of road trips rules. I hope these make your road trips more enjoyable!
Be an Optimist
Remember that a road trip is not just about the destination but it also about the journey. Take the time to enjoy the journey and see the sights along the way. Be sure to stop at interesting places, ask locals about things to see and do, take photos, and do not be afraid to take the roads less traveled.
Be a Pessimist
Road trips are fun be prepared! The car can have mechanical trouble, weather can unpredictable, wild animals can be an issue, and you could get sick or hurt. Be Prepared! Assume that your vehicle could have trouble at the most inopportune time or in a remote area. Have appropriate provisions including food, water, backpack (in case you have to hike out of an area), sleeping bag, shelter, spare motor oil, etc. Have a good first aid kit, duct and electrical tape (for minor repairs, splints, etc). Have an auto safety check before you leave, check tires and air pressure, oil level, coolant level, brakes, etc. Think of things that could go wrong and do your best to be prepared.
Part of the road trip is to see new sights and experience new things. Use a camera to record those new sights and do not be afraid to take photos. This is especially valid if you will be traveling the road once. If you are driving and see something deserving of a photo then stop and get a photo. You may not pass this way again or see that sight again. Digital photos are cheap. Be sure it is safe to stop and grab that photo opportunity while it exists.
Don’t Take Photos
For some destinations you will travel to and from on the same road. In these cases take photos sparingly when going to the destination and reserve most photos for the return trip. What often happens is that you stop, take photos, get back in the car, travel for a short distance, and then find a better photo spot. Better to travel to the destination and note places to stop on the way back. You will have a much better idea of the ideal photo spots and you will spend less time starting and stopping for photos that you will probably delete. This does not apply for time sensitive photos such as animals, sunsets, unusual cloud formations, and other unique things.
You will probably see a number of things on the trip. When you stop try to take a quick snapshot of a sign for your current location. This can be a road sign, trailhead sign, historical marker, or description sign. If you don’t do this you may find yourself looking through your photos trying to recall name of the location. I also like to add keywords to the photo files to classify the type of photo and the location.
It’s Not Just About the Destination
Much of the fun of a road trip is in the journey. Do not be afraid to explore, see new sights, and take the road less traveled. Stop at Visitor Centers along the way and ask about local sights or about their favorite places. If you are in National Parks then ask the Rangers about their favorite spots. These people are there to assist visitors so make good use of their time and experience. Always be courtesy and show your appreciation to those you talk to.